GREENSBORO, N.C. – SaySo, in collaboration with Healthy Blue, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina’s (Blue Cross NC) Medicaid managed care plan, is launching a housing Flex Fund to support youth transitioning out of foster care across the state. The fund will address barriers to obtaining housing by helping youth in need with deposits, short-term or partial rental assistance, rental and utility arrears, and acquiring essential furniture.
“Every year, hundreds of youth age out of North Carolina’s foster care system, and too often, fall through the cracks of the system,” said Jesse Thomas, VP of Medicaid and Chief Executive Officer of Healthy Blue for Blue Cross NC. “Funding this program is critical to supporting the health and wellbeing of these young adults and ensuring they have the resources and tools needed to thrive and successfully transition into independent adulthood.”
“After reaching the age of 18, 20 percent of youth who are in foster care will become instantly homeless,” said Carmelita Coleman, SaySo Program Director. “With Blue Cross NC providing this funding, we are helping to reduce the rate of young people in North Carolina who may have to experience eviction, homelessness, or go without the essential housing items they need.”
The Flex Fund will be administered by the SaySo Young Adult Leadership Council who will develop an application for youth in need of housing support. The application will include basic housing request information such as applicant demographics, type and amount of assistance being requested, date needed, and other documentation that may be required to support the request (such as W-9 or invoice). In addition, the applicants will provide information to assure that the funding is being used for housing, that there is a mechanism to maintain housing, that they are connected to additional programming and resources, and that the young person has a support system.
Studies have shown that many youths in foster care struggle when transitioning to adulthood.[i] Compared to their peers who aren’t in foster care, they often lack essentials, such as stable housing, employment and transportation, needed to become self-sufficient and care for their whole health. The Flex Fund program aims to address this need by providing foster care youth with housing assistance and resources to support their overall wellbeing.
For more information about the program, please call 1-800-632-1400 or visit www.chsnc.org.
SaySo is a statewide association, part of Children’s Home Society of NC, for youth aged 14 to 24 who are or have been in the out-of-home care system. This includes all types of substitute care, including foster care, group homes, and mental health placements. The youth-led organization improves the substitute care system by educating the community, speaking out about needed changes, and providing support to youth who are or have been in substitute care. SaySo began in 1998, and today the organization boasts 29 local chapters across North Carolina and a membership of over 750 young adults in foster care and alumni who remain committed to elevating youth voice.
Children’s Home Society (CHS) served more than 23,000 North Carolina children and families last year. This included providing family preservation services to over 1,000 youth and creating a safe haven for nearly 1,100 children with foster care families. CHS has celebrated more than 16,000 adoptions since 1902. With over 12,000 children in foster care in the state, and 450-plus aging out each year, CHS continues to work tirelessly in its mission to promote the right of every child to a permanent, safe, and loving family.